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TOC Breaking news: Senior Minister of State Balaji Sadasivan passes away

Article updated @ 1600

Ms Braema Mathi, who was invited by Dr Balaji to be on the Ministry of Health task force on HIV and who is also the former Vice President of Action for AIDS told TOC:

“I’ve always felt that he really cared for the welfare for people with HIV and he was trying his best to put in policies to help them get support, especially those who were struggling to get treatment.

And I think he came to the issue with an open mind. Because of him and his outspokenness about the issue it gained a lot of prominence in the last few years.

Though there were different views he always adopted a gentlemanly approach to dealing with diversity. He was also happy to interact directly with all the communities that remained vulnerable to the disease to proactively gather feedback.

He will be missed.”

Article as of 1200

According to news sources, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Balaji Sadasivan died this morning from colon cancer.

Dr Balaji’s political career began in the 2001 general election under the PAP banner as an MP of Ang Mo Kio GRC. He was cited as one of the “super seven” batch of PAP candidates in that year, and held the following portfolios in his political career:

Minister of State for Transport (Nov 2001 to August 2004)
Minister of State for Health (Nov 2001 to August 2004)
Minister of State for Environment (Nov 2001 to May 2003)
Senior Minister of State for Health (August 2004 to May 2006)

Dr Balaji was a neorosurgeon by training and was accredited by neuroscience boards in both the United States and Australia. As Minister of State for Health, Dr Balaji was credited for raising Singapore’s profile at the World Health Organization (WHO) and taking the lead in promoting Singapore internationally as a destination that was dealing effectively with SARs during the outbreak.

Dr Balaji also played a key role in tackling the spread of HIV in Singapore.

Dr Stuart Koe, CEO of Asia’s leading gay lifestyle site told TOC that “Dr Balaji was a friend to Singapore’s gay community.” He recalled how Dr Balaji led a delegation of Ministry of Health officials and gay community leaders to Sydney to study how HIV infection rates there had been kept under control.

Dr Koe credited Dr Balaji’s adoption of the “Sydney model” approach for the “significant increase in funding of MSM-targeted HIV programs” and broadly consulting gay community leaders in developing such strategies.

Dr Koe added:

“Dr Balaji was never afraid to speak his mind, but he had a great capacity to ask the right questions and listen to what people were telling him. The Singapore gay community owes him a debt taking HIV prevention in Singapore to world-class levels.”